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Niger - Mariama, 14 years old, domestic worker

© UNICEF/Niger/2009/Bisin
Mariama Sanda a young domestic worker in Niamey

On November 20th, we celebrate anniversary of the Convention on the rights of the child. This portrait is part of a series that shows progress and challenges in advancing children’s rights in a region where some of the lowest human development indicators in the world are found.

Niamey, Niger, 5 November 2009 -  Mariama Sanda, 14 years old, has been working as a  domestic since she was 11.

She is the only one who provides an income to her family of 10 (she has eight brother s and sisters). She works every single day of the week, from 8am until 2pm, and from 4.30pm until 7pm.

Rights denied/ rights obtained: Article 36 - Right to be protected from economic exploitation, from hazardous work and all other forms of exploitation

Impact on life or consequences:
She has never been in school and is extremely vulnerable to violence, verbal and sexual abuse.

Child profile : Mariama, 14 years old, domestic worker

My name is Mariama Sanda. I am 14 years old, I have been working as a maid since I was 11. My father died 8 years ago. Although my mother has re-married, my step-father is too old to earn a living. I have eight brothers and sisters, among them two twin sisters.

I am the only one who provides an income to my family. I earn 6,000 Francs CFA per month (about US$ 13).

This is good, because when I started, I was so little that I was only earning 3,000 FCFA (about US$ 7) per month.

Plus I can bring back food to my family twice a day.

There is never enough food, but I have little brothers to feed, so I always make sure there is enough for them and sometimes I eat even less food to make sure they have enough.

I have to get up every day at 6.30 am, I leave home at 7.30 am, walk for half an hour, and reach my employers’ home by 8 am.

I work every single day of the week, from 8am until 2pm, then from 4.30pm until 7am. I am in charge of washing the dishes, washing clothes, cooking and cleaning the house.
My entire family relies on my work and the food I bring home every day.  It is not that I like my job: this is the only thing I can do if we want to eat every day.

I have never been to school. I would love to, but I need to work.

Sometimes, one suffers too much, but I have learnt to be patient.  As I work every day of the week, sometimes, I feel cannot take it any more.

I would like to stop everything. But as I do not have any other plan, I just move on with it.

By Sandra Bisin





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